College Baseball Chat (March 19, 2018)
Teddy Cahill: Welcome to this week's college baseball chat, coming you today from Auburn, Ala. It was an exciting weekend of baseball around the country, which led to some significant changes in the Top 25. So let's talk about it.
Jeramey (Locust Grove):
- The bigger series sweep and why? NC state at Clemson or Arkansas at home vs Kentucky?
Teddy Cahill: These were definitely the two biggest results of the weekend. I'll say NC State going to Clemson for the sweep was the bigger result. Before this weekend, the Wolfpack had played one game on the road (an hour down the road from Raleigh) and one game against a team that was projected in the preseason to be a regional team (they lost). It was clear NC State was talented, but it wasn't clear how they'd respond when facing a tougher opponent/situation. Well, that question was resoundingly answered this weekend. The Wolfpack held a powerful Clemson offense to five runs over the course of the weekend and continued to roll in by far its biggest test to date. NC State still has some flaws, but it showed it is ready to contend for the ACC title.
Julian (Midland Texas):
- What do you think about arkansas’s Offensive explosion?Dave van horn has seemed to have found his lineup and the hogs are ready for business. Do you think the hogs deserve to be at the top and are they true national championship contenders??? Thanks Julian #diehardrazorbackfanthroughitall
Teddy Cahill: As for that other big sweep this weekend - Arkansas was extremely impressive against Kentucky. The Wildcats' strength is supposed to be on the mound, but the Razorbacks' hitters made things look easy this weekend. I obviously have been high on Arkansas all year - it wasn't on the cover of the College Preview issue for nothing - and that was the kind of weekend I had been waiting for. Ten home runs in a Saturday doubleheader, 39 runs on the weekend, 59 runs in five games against Texas and Kentucky. Just a loud, loud week. As I have written, yes, Arkansas is a serious national title contender. The lineup is so deep and powerful and the pitching staff can match up with any one.
Steven (Montgomery, AL):
- I hope you enjoyed your visit to Auburn this weekend and I'm glad to see Auburn playing good baseball. Do you think Auburn can compete with the top teams in this league? Especially considering our schedule. I know the SEC is tough but we still have Kentucky, Ole Miss, Florida, and Arkansas. All top 10 teams, all on the road. What is realistic for Auburn moving forward?
Teddy Cahill: I always like coming to Auburn. And it was especially nice to be back in a college town this weekend after spending the last week in LA. I'm coming away from this weekend feeling really good about the Tigers. As I wrote today in Off the Bat (https://www.baseballamerica.com/stories/off-the-bat-auburn-nc-state-ohio-state-make-statements/), yes, I think Auburn can contend in the SEC. The rotation stacks up well with the rest of the league, the lineup is deeper than last year and the team plays with an incredible belief. I think Auburn is a little thinner on the mound than a few other teams in the league and that may eventually catch up to the Tigers, but if you have Casey Mize going on Friday nights, you're going to be in the mix of every series. He's not going to go 10-0 in the league, but if he takes care of business, the Tigers are often going to be in a position of just needing to split Saturday and Sunday to win a series. And with their lineup and Davis Daniel and Tanner Burns on the mound, that's going to happen more often than not. I don't think Auburn wins the SEC West, but I think it will be close to the top.
- Are you willing to admit that Kris Bubic is a bad man?
Teddy Cahill: Has this ever been a question? I'm all in on Bubic. He does so many things well on the mound and he's been absolutely terrific for Stanford over the last two years. He's a huge reason the Cardinal are ranked No. 3.
- Even though its early in the season, what is your take on the Big 12 so far? Also, what did you think about the Arkansas and Kentucky series? Arkansas seems just to be a offensive juggernaut this year and their pitching is pretty solid. What do you think?
Teddy Cahill: I've touched on Arkansas-Kentucky already, so I'll focus on the Big 12 question. It hasn't been a stellar start for the league. Texas Tech didn't fare well on its road trip - which was very difficult, but I think the Red Raiders hoped to do better than 3-5 over the last 10 days. I still believe in that team, but I think it's also apparent that it is still working to put everything together. TCU and Texas have yet to hit their stride, though I think they'll get there. Oklahoma has gotten right at home, but is about to face a step up in competition. Kansas got a reality check this weekend. Oklahoma State and West Virginia have been disappointing. Overall, it's a solid league with some teams that are going to be better in May than they are today. But, right now at least, I don't see elite teams. I think it's going to be a dog fight all spring in the Big 12.
Ken (Sout Florida):
- Can the ASUN be a two team conference this year? FGCU & Stetson? How good is Stetson? They are all over the top of just about every Pitching category. 1 in ERA - 1.89,, 1 in WHIP - .94, 1 in hits allowed per 9 - 4.92, 2 in shutouts with 6. other than Logan who has stepped up.
Teddy Cahill: No, I don't think the A-Sun has that in it. Last year, FGCU probably gets an at-large bid if it had needed it. But it won 40+ games, had a 6-3 record in Top 50 games and a top-40 RPI. Neither FGCU nor Stetson look like they're going to have that kind of resume, because neither team's schedule has been particularly tough. I think Stetson is good, but, honestly, I'm not sure how good. They clearly can pitch - that's no surprise given how much experience came back on that staff. If Brooks Wilson can be used the way they're using him, that's a really deep staff. Maryland is off to a bad start, but I'm still interested to see how Stetson does up there this weekend in its first road games of the year.
Jeramey (Locust Grove):
- Wake Forrest has 2 quality series wins to open up the Acc season vs Dlorida State and Louisville. What is your take on them this far and who is someone to look out for on that team? Thanks
Teddy Cahill: I like Wake coming into this year. They struggled a lot early and the suspensions didn't help anything. But it seems like the Deacons have gotten things figured out over the last couple weeks. There's talent there for sure. And they play really well at home, where they've won the last two weeks. I think it's an intriguing team going forward. Michael Lananna saw them all weekend and came away impressed. We spent some time talking about Wake on the podcast today, which I'd encourage you to listen to when it posts today.
- Teddy: Credit goes out to NCSU for the impressive sweep at Clemson, a Sunday pitching by committee strategy that paid off, and an attacking offense. Lots of kinks in the Tigers' armor though. What was supposed to be their strength (offense) is now a liability. Up and down the line up. With a tough stretch ahead for the Tigers, in your opinion, what do the Tigers need to do to weather the impending storm? Tks.
Teddy Cahill: I actually don't think the coming stretch is that difficult for Clemson. Going to Coastal and Louisville this week is going to be hard, but once they get through that, they have a three-week stretch of home vs. Boston College, at Notre Dame and home vs. Miami. That's all very manageable, or, at least as manageable as the ACC schedule ever is. Clemson has to be careful not to let this weekend continue to beat it, but I think it'll get back on track soon enough. There's too much talent in that lineup to keep them down for long.
Jeremy Mohr (Hershey, PA):
- Teddy, I see Sam Houston is off to a great start and cracked the Top 25. i know it’s early, but will they be able to replicate last years success?
Teddy Cahill: Sam Houston can definitely win the Southland and get back into a regional. Now, can it pull another upset once it gets there? Who knows. That's as much about getting some breaks and playing well at the right time as it is about anything else. But I like this Bearkats team. It's an experienced group and I really like the lineup with Hunter Hearn and Andrew Fregia providing some thump. They play very hard and aren't going to be intimidated on big stages. That's the kind of team that a host isn't going to want to see show up in its regional.
- For the Beavers, Andy Armstrong has played great ball in the substitute roll for Madrigal. What do you think Casey will do upon Madrigal’s return? I hate to think Armstrong is simply relegated to bench work
Teddy Cahill: Well, Nick Madrigal is going to go back to playing second base when he's healthy. Armstrong has been solid, but I don't know who you'd take out of the everyday lineup to make room for him. But these things have a way of working themselves out. Maybe Casey finds a way to keep Armstrong in there, maybe he goes back to coming off the bench. Either way, the experience he's getting now will serve him and the Beavers well down the road.
- Time to worry about the Huskers? Lots of injuries, no depth, and Erstad just can't seem to get them over the hump! Thoughts?
Teddy Cahill: I think, yes, to a certain extent. This is a different Nebraska team than what it was setting up to be in the fall. There's no way around the fact that injuries have really hurt the pitching depth, especially losing Chad Luensmann. But Nebraska found a way to turn it around last year after a slow start and I wouldn't rule that out just yet. I don't think this team wins the Big Ten title, but I'm not ruling out a late run. The next two weeks are going to be big. Minnesota and Ohio State are playing very well right now and midweek trips to Oral Roberts and Creighton aren't easy. I think we're going to find out a lot about the Huskers in the next two weeks.
Susan (Portland, Or):
- Do any other colleges play baseball besides the SEC and the ACC. Seems that is all you ever talk about or apparently visit? Silly me, I always thought many colleges play baseball.
Teddy Cahill: I'm not sure. Can't seem to recall who the top-ranked team in the country is...
Under The Radar Conference Title Contenders
A detailed look at four teams that have a chance to win their conference championship in the coming weeks.
- Early prediction for this weekend huge series between the Hogs and Gators?
Teddy Cahill: At the risk of talking more about the SEC - this is going to be a great series. Both teams play well in all facets, but the matchup I'm most interested in seeing is Florida's arms against Arkansas' bats. The Razorbacks hit extremely well at home, but McKethan Stadium is a little bit less friendly than Baum Stadium. And there's not a better rotation in the country than Brady Singer, Jackson Kowar and Tyler Dyson. But the Hogs have the offensive ability to make things tough for the Gators. I can't pick against the Gators in Gainesville and I think it's going to be a fun weekend.
John (New York):
- We are about a month into the season, who is the biggest surprise team for you at this point in the season?
Teddy Cahill: Probably NC State. I did not see the Wolfpack being ranked No. 10 five weeks into the season. Slightly under the radar, but UNLV's start to the season has been rather surprising as well. The Rebels are 18-3 and that gang hasn't made regionals (or had a winning record) since 2014. I'm very interested in seeing how it fares this weekend against San Diego State, the preseason Mountain West favorite.
Teddy Cahill: That'll do it for today. Thanks to everyone for the questions. This week is setting up to be another outstanding week of college baseball with several Top 25 matchups next weekend and some big showdowns between favorites in the SEC, American, Conference USA and Mountain West. So we'll have a lot more to talk about next week when we do this again.